Sir Paul McCartney is on campus and will receive an honorary degree at Commencement on Monday, according to two individuals involved with Commencement proceedings.
The University has a longstanding policy of not identifying the recipients of honorary degrees before the Commencement ceremony itself. But the 65-year-old McCartney — of “Beatles” fame — was spotted in the Elm City on Sunday, and the sources said he will be honored at Commencement on Monday.
It will make for a British-themed weekend following the Class Day address of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday. McCartney was spotted Sunday evening at the Yale Center for British Art, where he was said to have attended a dinner with Blair, University President Richard Levin and other dignitaries.
Earlier in the day, Blair mentioned the British rock icon in his Class Day speech as he gave advice to graduating Elis on what to expect in their future.
“Be prepared to fail as well as to succeed, and realize it is failure, not success, that defines character,” Blair said, adding: “Sir Paul McCartney reminded me that the first record company the Beatles approached rejected them as a band no one would want to listen to.”
Honorary degrees are awarded by the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, based on the recommendations of a committee comprised of Corporation members, faculty and alumni.
The identities of the recipients are closely guarded secrets and are not traditionally revealed in advance of when the degrees are actually conferred. Ten such degrees were awarded last year to accomplished individuals including pianist Emmanuel Ax, South African Chief Justice Pius Nkonzo Langa and author Peter Matthiessen ’50.
In an e-mail message late Sunday night, Levin offered his own interpretation of the McCartney sighting.
“Here’s one comment: Yesterday … all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday,” Levin wrote. “Or perhaps another, relative to the Sir Paul sightings: Here, There and Everywhere.”
Commencement is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Old Campus.
—Harrison Korn, Reed Reibstein and Victor Zapana contributed reporting.